DreamApply

From a click to an enrolled applicant, it’s a numbers game!

Any DreamApply user using our marketing tools has access to a growing number of marketing communication and analytics possibilities, specially designed for higher education needs in mind. Connecting those tools with specific marketing channels can be complicated and not always intuitive, so to ease the burden, we’ve written short sample how you can connect DreamApply tools and Google Ads, to measure results of your campaigns. We will not go into Google Analytics or Tag Manager here (both of which you can also configure for your DreamApply instance, of course!), but see what additional possibilities DreamApply brings to the table.

What we will try to achieve:

  • Prepare a Google ad to the search results to promote a campaign page on your main website
  • Track visitors in both DreamApply and your main website
  • Know how many visitors clicked on the ad, how many of those clicks turned into registered leads, how many of them submitted an application and finally – how many of those clicks turned into enrolled applicants!

Let’s get started!

For starters, let’s assume you have a campaign page on your main website page that you want to promote with a Google search ad:

https://your-university.edu/campaign

This is the “Final URL” (or web address) for your Google ad. In other words, this is where you want your visitors to land.

This is how your ad might look in the search results.

However, we want to have the clicks “pass through” your DreamApply, so that DreamApply can issue and store a cookie on the user’s computer during the process. When the visitor later finds their way back to DreamApply to register & apply, his/her account will be automatically tagged appropriately.

A little technical detour. You may have had a look into the Google Ads destination requirements before. Among the many requirements for your ads you may have noticed that ads which “redirects and take the user to a different domain” are not allowed. Well, not quite! Your final campaign page should be an honest page with proper content and should not surprise the user in any nasty way. However, this does not mean we cannot track user clicks!

This is where Google Ads “tracking templates” come into play! By the way, don’t click on the link just yet, the rabbit hole goes deep! Let’s look at this from a helicopter view first.

What is a “tracking template”?

In short, it is just a website address, which tells Google where to actually send the visitor (it is a little more complex, of course) instead of the “Final URL” (your campaign page).

But it cannot be just any website address. It has to be special in a couple of ways:

  • It has to understand the special {lpurl} parameter that will be replaced by Google with the “Final URL” that you have configured for your campaign.
  • It has to do it’s thing quickly and redirect the user to the “Final URL” (which it has learned from the {lpurl} parameter) without any funny business (Google will check this!)

DreamApply has built-in capability of creating such “tracking template” URL-s as part of the basic Marketing Addon. You can create several of them, one for each of your different campaigns, and attach an individual DreamApply tracker code.

Before we look into DreamApply how to create those “tracking templates”, let’s have a sneak peek at how this looks when set up in Google Ads. Naturally, in the interest of brevity, we have skipped here any steps for setting up your keywords and other plumbing.

Did you notice the “TEST” button? I bet you did not! It’s near the bottom, you’re welcome!

By clicking there, it is possible to verify that all the settings are correct. Of course Google staff will approve of your ad before it can go live, but you can save time by doing some of the due diligence yourself.

If all is well, it should look something like this:

Marketing in DreamApply

Once central thing about all marketing tools in DreamApply (landing pages, agents/advisors, bonus codes, leads import, kiosks etc.) is the fact that all applicants acquired “via some activity” will be tagged down with the correct tracker code.

They are often added automatically by your campaign mechanics or the rules engine, but you can add them manually as well!

This opens up all of the various analysis tools of DreamApply, no matter what is the campaign mechanics behind it. You can do filtering and reporting based on the trackers (among other parameters), comparing different kinds of marketing activities, for instance online media in some country vs an education agent in a neighboring country.

Here is a very simple report you can see if you filter your leads by a couple of trackers to see how they are performing. Note the number of leads at various stages of progression.

But just as easily you could filter your list of enrolled applicants and see which trackers come up there and how often! It may very well be that you will get a lot of clicks from a campaign, but they do not end up progressing to a submitted application, much less an enrolled student!

This sort of tracking is what allows you to spend your marketing budget wisely.

Set up Google Ads in DreamApply

Now let’s finally look at how we can prepare the tracking features in DreamApply. This is the most boring part, so we left it last, but should actually be done first.

If you have the Marketing Addon enabled, please navigate to “Marketing” -> “Entry points” and then press “Create a new Entry point”.

Check “How is the visitor identified?” = “Using Google Ads tracking”. That was easy! You can already see the “tracking template” below, this is the address that ends with the strange-looking {lpurl}. Copy this addres, this is what you will need to enter into the Google Ad (see screenshot above).

Now that we have the visitor identification set up, all you need to do is choose the appropriate tracker code to add to the applicant, one that you have probably prepared beforehand (see “Marketing” -> “Trackers” for that).